Who are you to know about gluten free?
Well, I’m sure you would want to know who is behind a business before you subscribe to it in the first place. Plus, given it is such a specialism & a level of trust, you’d need to know that I actually know what I’m talking about. So here you go. Here’s all about us!
I’m Nicky, I’m a single mum to two amazing girls Olivia & Grace. They are now respectively a teen and a pre-teen but part of the team behind Gluten Free Little Cook. I run a gluten free cake business specialising in bespoke birthday cakes and postal/delivery cream teas consisting of GF fruit & plain scones, cakes and brownies. I did say I’d never make brownies as they are the one thing that a coeliac is offered. “ooh we have brownies” Yay said no one ever! But, with the creation of the teas, they needed an extra hit of chocolate, so I make them too (and I’m reliably informed by a friend’s daughter “they are the best brownies in the world ever”. The aim was to always ensure that any item ever tasted gluten free. If my mum can’t guess, then no one else should either!
I’m not a trained baker by any means, I’m more than happy in the kitchen and like many of you, will have just practised what I learnt from when I was a child baking with either my grandmother or mother. Nowadays, lots of people haven’t had those experiences and are frightened of baking anything, getting it wrong, or just don’t know how to do it. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t turn out like in a picture, as long as it tastes good, a little extra icing in strategic places can be just what you need!
I was however, a trained nanny & worked with many families over the years, organising parties, activities etc & my kids too always had a themed birthday event be it Dalmations, Princesses or Frozen. I’m used to keeping children busy & baking is a great form of fun, learning and determination. Prior to having my children, I worked with a number of corporate organisations, managing teams and back office admin. I do much prefer being behind the scenes organising, but, when it’s your own business and livelihood, you need to step up and out. I am an avid networker, I always know someone who is the right person for the job & I help other women start their businesses and provide advice from starting, to tech to social media.
I’m also heading to a BIG birthday so it’s time to do something different, something for me – at the end of this very week I turn 50. It’s either go big or go home, so it’s best to just do it big. Which is why I started Gluten Free Little Cook, as I like a challenge & didn’t want to see anyone miss out. All cakes/bakes are tested before any recipe is put into a box, either ones I’ve adapted from regular cookery books, or borrow from gluten free ones.
And as it is National Selfie Day, I’ll even be putting up a picture up on Instagram/Facebook today, Monday 21st June.
Life begins at 50 or so I’m told. Let’s see.
If you want to see what else I do, head over to Nic’s GF Bakes – I’m on Instagram, Facebook & there’s a website too. https://linktr.ee/nicsgfbakes
My why is my youngest child Grace. For years she was plagued with ear and eye infections, lethargic and forever having a sore tummy. It’s tummy tonsilitis they’d say, a continuation from her ear/eye infection & her lymph glands are swollen. By the end of 2017, I was at breaking point with her being ill again, having seen an ENT specialised who dismissed my suggestion at an allergy of some sort. But by December, my child was grey. Washed out & not right. In early Jan 2018 at the age of 9, I took her to the doctors again. A new locum GP listened & agreed she was an odd colour & ordered blood tests. Very comprehensive ones covering everything & filling at least 7 vials. Grace wasn’t impressed. Yet, 3 days later I had a call that changed our world and by the beginning of Feb, we had a diagnosis and began our gluten free journey.
Coeliac Disease, an auto-immune disease, not an allergy, is becoming more well known, but we are well behind Europe in catering for it. And it is still very much misunderstood, as you will know if you are a parent of a coeliac, it’s a challenge as it is not just about cutting out the gluten/wheat. The acronym BROW is handy to remember (Barley, Rye, Oats & Wheat) to remove all those items from your diet, that in itself is easy enough. However, it is about removing all forms of cross contamination that could make them ill as well as any items with ‘may contain’ on them.
Separate butters, jams, toasters (or toaster bags), food cooked at the top of an oven on separate trays, constant label reading and ensuring that everything is safe to eat. No double dipping, no sharing bags of sweets, crisps etc. Eating out is a challenge, the constant questions, queries, do you have a separate fryer for chips? (her staple diet along with ketchup!). When you get asked or told “it’s got milk in it, is that ok” or my other favourite “don’t worry, it’s hot, the gluten will get killed”. Umm, it wasn’t alive in the first place. Thanks, we’ll eat elsewhere.
The disease, whilst hard, is remarkable in the fact that it can be treated by diet alone. Remove the gluten, and given time, the body responds. Grace has thrived the past 2 years, her numbers have dropped, and whilst she hasn’t been seen during Covid for her usual tests, seeing her grown in height the past year, I know that she is doing well.
What & How
Our what is ‘what can we do to help you, how can I help solve your problem’.
Firstly, I never wanted a child to miss out especially not my daughter. I have seen how she was affected in the beginning of our gluten free journey when she’d attend a party with her packed lunch and miss out on the treats, the cake & half the party bag too as it was either not suitable or would potentially be contaminated in some way. It couldn’t be trusted. And trust is important. Her face, downhearted & teary, is enough to break anyone let alone her parent. I decided then and there that she wouldn’t miss out. Being different is hard enough when you are an adult. When you just want to be like your peers and fit in, especially when young, its hard to adjust. Luckily, Grace is rather resilient. At school, for her birthday, she’d just take in gluten free cupcakes for her treat. No one knew and no one should. The important thing is that no one missed out.
Being different is hard. It’s nice when your child is invited and included to a party; that the parent takes a big decision to make everything suitable for your child to be included. I’m lucky to have friends like that. I hope you are too.
Ingredients are important to us too and what goes in our boxes. I only use high quality items and what I would use in my own cake business & at home too. I use Doves Freee From flours, Belgian chocolate & sugars from Tate & Lyle or Silver Spoon. Gluten Free sprinkles are sourced from my own supplier and are safe for coeliacs. I don’t use ‘may contain’ wheat but some items are may contain for peanuts/nuts.
Each and every box will always have more. I don’t know how to do ‘less’. It’s not in my nature. There will be themes to tie a box together, seasonal, UK holidays including Halloween, Christmas & Easter. I’m sure there will be a healthy January option……to tie in with the New Year!
Each box contains:
- all the dry ingredients needed to make the recipe. Simply add the butter, egg, milk as required.
- the full recipe so you can make it again with a reuseable wipeable recipe card.
- a theme to tie in with the seasonal nature of food. Surely July has to be about strawberries!! And August for corn and September for apples. An additional recipe suggestion, hints & tips on other items to try.
- a ‘made by me’ card for your child to put alongside their bakes & send us a picture so we can share it
If a box contains fairy cakes or cupcakes – we’ve fantastic fun wrappers, gluten free sprinkles and cupcake picks to decorate them with and make them look awesome. For biscuits we’ll have sprinkles, icing even a chocolate dip depending on what we are helping you create.
Above all, it’s important that it’s fun, ‘normal’ and exciting. The tasty part is just what it should be! They will adapt & evolve in the coming months ensuring that we provide the best quality and fun that keeps you and your child happy.
Our first recipe cards head off to the printers this week to be made. Bright, fun and colourful.
Have you got yours ordered so you don’t miss out?